1. Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft is my seventh novel, and it's my first attempt at anything paranormal. Well, that's not one hundred percent true. I did try writing about this enchanted island that was being attacked by brain-sucking sea monsters, but for obvious reasons that book still lives deep inside my sock drawer! I do like to push myself as a writer though; I feel more alive if I'm exploring new terrain.
My other Young Adult novels include Babe in Boyland, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and Triple Shot Bettys in Love. Babe in Boyland has recently been optioned by the Disney Channel, which I'm super excited about. I write a lot of plays as well, which keeps me busy in my community. I also teach English at a small college here in Northern California.
2. When did you first discover your interest in magick & witchcraft and how/when did you decide to incorporate it into your writing?
I'm a pagan at heart; even as a kid, I sensed a mysterious power running through the natural world. Witches know how to interact with that power, and that intrigues me. Growing up here in Northern California, I was lucky enough to meet some people who practiced witchcraft, so it wasn't that foreign to me. I dabbled in spells and rituals in my late teens and early twenties. In writing Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft I wanted to explore what I knew about real witches but also create a world where their power could be even more awesome.
3. Do you believe in magick?
I believe in all kinds of magic (and magick) though maybe not in the sense that most people mean. I don't think wands and potions are likely to do much unless they're invested with an enormous amount of intent. I think we're the magic, the power of our thoughts and desires, our dreams—we're the force to be reckoned with. Our imaginations provide us with a passport into other worlds, and that in and of itself is magic. Writing has always seemed like a kind of magic to me—developing the power to influence people's inner lives.
4. What do you hope that readers take way with them after reading Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft?
I hope it puts them in the mood to create a little magic in their own lives, and to recognize everyday magic when it happens.
5. I find it interesting to know what environment authors find most productive… Do you use a pen and paper or laptop? Quiet room at home or bustling café? Basically, what gets your creative juices flowing?
I use a pen and a journal for my scribbly thoughts—character quirks, rough outlines, anything that pops into my head. For actually composing the work, I generally do that on a computer. As to environment, I sometimes like a cafe outing, usually with other writer friends, but I work best in my writing room.
I use ear buds and surround myself with nature sounds: creeks or waterfalls work best for me. My nature sounds playlist seems to tell my brain, "This is writing time, so you need to leave the ordinary world behind." Writing while listening to music with lyrics makes me insane. It's like trying to have a conversation with two totally different friends simultaneously. Song lyrics pull me into them and distract me from my own sentences; maybe that's because I write songs for fun.
6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Toughest criticism, and one that I think is a hot button issue for so many writers, is the idea that writing genre fiction (Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, etc.) is somehow less important or "trashier" than writing "literary" fiction. It makes me sad when fellow book lovers belittle anyone's work simply because it fits in this or that genre. Best compliment has to be when a reader emailed me and said she was really afraid of going to high school, but after reading my YA books she felt kind of excited about it.
7a. What book is currently on your nightstand? And who are some of your favorite authors?
I'm on a big British kick, gearing up for a trip to London, so I'm currently reading Helen Fielding's Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination as well as Hester Browne's The Little Lady Agency. So many writers have influenced me at different times in my life. Some of my favorites in the realm of “classics” are Nabokov and the Brontes (especially Charlotte). Southern writers like Ellen Gilchrist made a big impression on me when I was in high school. I love funny contemporary British writers like Nick Hornby and Sophie Kinsella. I read a lot of YA these days and some of my favorites in that world are Beth Fantaskey, Nina LaCour, Maggie Stiefvater and Katie Crouch.
7b. Now to get more specific: What are some of your favorite Witchy reads?
I love Rachel Hawkins' Hex Hall series, Katie Crouch's Magnolia League series, Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic, Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches and all of Sarah Addison Allen's books, which aren't particularly "witchy" but always have an element of magic in them.
8. Do you have any favorite Witchy Movies?
The Craft and Practical Magic, for sure--a couple of classics! I'd love to see more. In my opinion there just aren't enough witch movies out there.
9. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like yoga, kickboxing, thrift shopping, audio books, writing songs, movies and theatre.
10. What can we expect from you next?
Honestly, I'm superstitious about saying too much, but I do have two more books planned in the Audrey's Guide series. I hate to let the ideas out there before they have time to brew, you know? I will say there's bound to be more of a love story, we'll learn more about Julian, and there will be higher stakes for everyone involved.
11. Do any animals share your life? Please tell us about them.
Max is a cynical old fat cat who loves to sit in my lap while I work. Fang is a young spry kitten who's very mischievous.
12. If you were a witch, what one power would you really want to have and what power would frighten you?
Audrey learns this spell from her witchy mentor Sadie called the Witch's Wardrobe; it enables her to conjure outfits that fit her mood precisely at any given moment. I'd like to think I'd be a humanitarian witch and cast spells to end world hunger or cure cancer, but the truth is I'd probably use that wardrobe spell like three times a day! One power that would frighten me would be necromancy—the ability to raise the dead. It would be so very tempting to use that gift if someone I love died, but we all know those stories tend to end badly.
Author: Jody Gehrman
Reading Level: Young Adult
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: June 30th 2012
Publisher: Magic Genie Books
Publisher: Magic Genie Books
Size: 293 pages
Falling in love, baking a magical cake, fighting an evil necromancer—it’s all in a day’s work for Audrey Oliver, seventeen-year-old witch-in-training. When her mother goes missing and her mysterious "cousin" shows up out of the blue, Audrey knows something’s gone horribly, dangerously wrong. Now it’s up to her to get her own magical powers up to speed before everyone she loves is destroyed by the sorcerer intricately connected to her mother’s secret past.
Jody Gehrman is a pagan at heart. She is a native of Northern California, where real witches thrive, and she has had the pleasure of knowing a few. She is also the author of seven novels and numerous award-winning plays. Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft is her most recent Young Adult novel. Her other Young Adult novels include Babe in Boyland, Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty, and Triple Shot Bettys in Love, (Penguin's Dial Books). Babe in Boyland has recently been optioned by the Disney Channel and won the International Reading Association's Teen Choice Award. Her adult novels are Notes from the Backseat, Tart, and Summer in the Land of Skin (Red Dress Ink). Her plays have been produced in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I. She is a professor of English at Mendocino College, where she can be found grading papers when she's not experimenting with spells.
Jody has been kind enough to offer up one signed print copy for US/CAN entries & one e-copy for international entries! Answer her question in the comments below and then fill out the appropriate rafflecopter to win:)
Jody's Question: What's the spell you'd like to cast more than any other?
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